Nine teachers brought yoga mats to the Green Hills Area Education Agency on Thursday, ready to learn how to use yoga and meditation in the classroom.

Yoga is a recent addition offered by Green Hills, a two-day course that gives each participant a renewal credit for their teaching license or a graduate credit.

During the course, instructor Amy Jenkins demonstrated breathing and yoga techniques. Teachers use the meditation and yoga techniques in classrooms, reveal the purpose of the activity and have the children act independently.

It’s all evidence-based preferences, said Val Giegerich, a positive behavioral interventions and support coordinator for Green Hills.

Dawn Witt, a special education teacher at Nodaway Valley Community School in Greenfield, said the class will benefit her students. She’s already taught them breathing techniques, but this course taught her more variety and difference in techniques.

“This course taught us to breathe in and out through the nose to calm down, rather than breathing in through the nose and out of the mouth,” Witt said. “I’ve heard good things about the class and the instructor made me feel more comfortable.”

Jenkins was a music teacher for 10 years before transitioning as a yoga instructor for Challenge to Change Inc. Since then, she has been teaching yoga to adults for two years and children for one year.

“The majority of yoga instructors in Challenge to Change are former teachers. This adds a different dimension to their instruction style,” Jenkins said.

More research has emerged showing that yoga and mindfulness have a lot of benefits on confidence levels in children, teaching them love and training themselves to bring their mind back to the present, Jenkins said.

“Yoga has helped me be more efficient, a better person, more tolerant, and the best version of me I can be and it really empowered me both personally and professionally,” Giegerich said.

The next Green Hills AEA yoga course will be held in July in Red Oak. The annual Learning Supports Symposium at Riverside High School in Carson, open to families and community members, is on Aug. 4 and 5.

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